New Year’s is interesting in Japan. Japan is basically a Buddhist and Shinto country with a few Christians and other religions. It was interesting that Christmas decorations starting going up after Halloween. They don’t trick-or-treat but the stores decorate with pumpkins and Fall colors. So for two months we enjoyed Christmas music and decorations around town. Within a day after Christmas all of those decorations were replaced by New Year’s decorations. Businesses and government buildings are closed on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Stores have now started opening on New Year’s day to compete for shoppers. The families have special meals with food only served at New Year’s. “Hatsuihinode” (viewing the first sunrise) is the first activity of the New Year. They also have the first writing, Kakizome, the first food, and other things. It’s quite a time for family gatherings. They go together to visit the shrines to remember their ancestors and say prayers for good fortune and health in the new year. It’s a fun time to be in Japan. This is our fourth New Year’s together in Japan, and each time it has been fun to watch. What a great place to live and what great people!
First sunrise, blocked by the rain and snow.
Some of the New Year's decorations, the braided straw ropes over the doors to bless the homes and buildings, and those who enter. It's the "year of the sheep".
Crowds gathering at the shrines on January 1st to pay respect.
Oseichi special foods for New Year's week.
First snow of the new year--it was a cold, wet day here.